Memories Of Summer At Camp Ducey
by Mary Ann Resendes
Jack Ducey (not to be confused with Frank Dusy the early packer and sheep man) was a rancher on the King River District until he sold his ranch and moved to Dinkey Creek. He built the resort in about 1925, and it was a hit from the beginning. It had a charming two-story hotel with a dining room, the Buckhorn Café, and a store. Frank Turner remembered it as being “a wonderful place.” His family spent the summers there during the 1920’s and 30’s until they lost their farm in the depression. Two other families usually joined them; the men stayed behind to work on the farms, while the women and children went to Camp Ducey to escape the valley heat. Although they camped in tents, it was a home away from home complete with tables, chairs, and cots.
In 1937, Ducey sold the resort to Mildred and R.C. Gibbs, who owned it for eleven years, then sold it to Truman and Beulah Parker. The Parkers owned the resort during its heyday, from 1948 to 1962. They created a warm and friendly atmosphere, and made guests feel like they were part of a big family. Darrell Hickman, a college student from Arkansas who spent his summers working at Pine Logging, reminisced about the resort in his book, Dinkey Creek:
The Parker’s ran the post office, a combination service station and grocery store. Across the road they had a bar and a hotel. Every Tuesday and Thursday night they showed a movie on an open pavilion, which overlooked Dinkey Creek. The audience sat on benches and the projector and its operator sat in the middle of them. Dinkey Creek, right below the pavilion, provided a noisy addition to the dialogue. Admission was a quarter. It seemed right to call them Ma and Pa Parker because this is what they were, like grandparents to us all. They were pleasant, friendly and folksy.
On Saturday nights, guests danced on the open-air dance floor to the music of the Eddie Sims Band; on Sunday mornings, a priest from Clovis and a lay pastor traveled to the resort and held services on the dance floor. The Parkers’ daughter, Joyce Whitaker, remembers the annual barbeque that the Parkers had at the end of each season, the second week of deer season. The barbeque was free, and the guests feasted on deer meat, garlic bread, coleslaw, and chili beans. Guests had to pay for their drinks. Her father used that money to start the next season. According to Whitaker, they had to have four deer for the barbeque, “And we really hunted to find them.”
The Parkers sold Camp Ducey to Earl and Evelyn Bollinger in 1962. The Bollingers kept some of the traditions, like the annual barbeque, until about the early seventies when they sold it to someone from Southern California. However, the resort had begun to decline, and the last owner did not invest in improvements. Dennis Beard, current owner of the Dinkey Creek Inn, noted that the old hotel looked like the leaning tower of Pisa near the end. But it was still fascinating, like a piece of history that was filled with memorabilia. The end finally came in 1981, when the buildings were bulldozed as part of the cleanup after the Dinkey Creek fire.